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Author's profile photo David Trites

SAP is Good Business for Goodwill

Goodwill Image.pngThe end of the year is a busy time. Between work deadlines and the holidays most people are scrambling. But if you can find the time, try to clean out your closets and donate what you don’t use before year-end. It doesn’t take long and it will make you feel great. You’ll get to start the New Year with a freshly organized and clutter-free closet, you’ll get a tax deduction, and most importantly, you’ll be helping other people at a time when they need it most.

Donating Creates Jobs

There are many great places to donate clothes but one of my favorites is Goodwill. Goodwill Industries International, Inc. is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that has been around since 1902. It’s made up of a network of 165 independent, community-based Goodwills in the United States and Canada and its mission is to turn donations into jobs for people in need.

In California for instance, there is Goodwill Industries of San Joaquin Valley (GISJV). It opened in 1942, just in time to assist with scrap salvaging efforts for World War II. Today, GISJV operates 17 retail stores, two bulk-sale facilities, an online book and media store, and a division dedicated to providing jobs for people with disabilities (Goodwill Service Connection).

“Our goal is to help people with disabilities and disadvantages get training and find employment,” said David Miller, CEO of GISJV. And as CEO, it’s Miller’s responsibility to make sure all GISJV profit is reinvested into its mission.  To help increase and maximize the amount reinvested, the board of directors at GISJV decided to implement the SAP Business One application, SAP’s ERP offering for small and medium enterprises. To ensure implementation success, GISJV engaged Softengine, a certified implementation partner for SAP Business One.

Insight was Needed

Prior to implementing SAP Business One, GISJV lacked insight into its core operations. “Most of the complexities in our business came from not having enough information,” said Miller. For example, when people dropped off items at a GISJV location, everything was put into big donation containers. But there was no way to keep track of what was in the containers. Accurate inventory didn’t exist. Nobody knew how many items were donated or what types of items were in each container. The total number of containers in use across the 17 locations was a mystery and there was no way to know where containers would be needed during peak and low seasons.



“We thought about 5,500 containers were in use across the organization,” said Miller. “By going to SAP Business One we found out we actually have 8,500, which is a substantial difference because that’s about $120,000 in potential revenue for us.” Reporting was also terribly slow and inefficient. To get a simple daily sales report took 24 hours. Store receipts had to be bundled by hand and sent to the main office for manual entry into a spreadsheet.

An Integrated Solution

With SAP Business One, process flows are integrated, transactions are recorded in real time, and reporting is fast and accurate. “We know where the sales are each day at a particular moment along with the inventory. Integrating that into our finances and being able to produce information has been wonderful,” said Miller. It has also enabled GISJV to generate consolidated financial statements for its board of directors five days faster than in the past.

The new solution also enables GISJV to be more responsive to its customers and enhance their shopping experience. “The data we are getting tells us what our customers want and what they are buying on a day-to-day basis – so we can maximize our donations and adjust things accordingly,” said Miller.

Simplifying Fuels Growth

Keeping track of individual store performance is also simple. They now know the margin performance of each store and can see where promotions and coupons are most effective. “With SAP Business One, our best stores now reveal themselves,” said Miller. Managers now spend more time on the floor than in the back room counting inventory. More time is also available for training, which improves store performance. And when the need arises, opening a new store has never been easier. “Now we know exactly how much material we need and exactly how much staffing we need to get a store off the ground,” said Miller.

To date Goodwill has served 9.8 million people through employment and training programs and helped over 261,000 people earn jobs. By upgrading to SAP Business One, GISJV is better prepared to grow its operations, serve its community, and improve the customer experience. “SAP has so much to offer our particular business and organization as we grow into being a real sustainable retail operation,” said Miller. “Goodwill has been doing this for over 100 years, it’s nice to bring in new systems that will allow us to do it even better for another 100 years.”


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